I’ve had a number of calls recently with undergrads looking to break into the real estate business. Without fail, they ask me what they should be doing to prepare for a career in real estate. Aside from internships and informational interviews of course, here are a few of the things that I think will give you a leg up on the competition.
Read The Real Estate Game:
The book was recommended to me by a family friend while I was in college. Bill Poorvu teaches the fundamentals of real estate in entertaining fashion, drawing from his 30 years of experience and teaching at HBS. Nearly 10 years later, the book still sits on my desk, filled with highlighter and marked pages.
Work your way through Peter Linneman’s textbook, Real Estate Finance & Investments
Peter Linneman is the founder of Wharton’s Real Estate Department and is uniquely positioned to guide the next generation of real estate professionals. His book is filled with actionable insights and no matter how many times you read it, you’ll come away with new perspectives. Read it closely, do the exercises, and repeat. Aside from hands-on experience, I couldn’t think of a better way to learn the business.
Attend a Real Estate Financial Modeling training class
REFM provides students with best in class real estate financial modeling training. They offer intensive beginner classes that will teach you financial modeling techniques specific to a variety of real estate property and transaction types. While the only way to really learn financial modeling is to get comfortable, dig in, and do it on your own, REFM will accelerate the learning process.
Understand the real estate investment environment
When you go into an interview you want to be able to speak intelligently about the current real estate investing landscape. What trends are impacting capital flow, what are the hot sectors and areas for investment, what’s the lending environment like? I recommend Globe Street or the real estate section of the WSJ. Better yet, take Peter Linneman’s advice.
Immerse yourself in the local market
Although capital flow is global, real estate is still a local business, so when you go into an interview make sure you know what’s going on in your market. If you’re looking to break into a major market, there are plenty of sources which report on local transactions such as The Real Deal here in NYC. If it’s a smaller market, call a few brokers and get a feel for pricing, new development, and supply/demand balance.
Real estate is a hard business to break into. My advice to students is to do everything in your power to prepare, use your personal network, and get your foot in the door somewhere. I wouldn’t be that picky, you can learn a lot in many settings.
What would you do to prepare for a career in real estate?